Healthcare Comments

Here’s a few quotes from Obama’s speech and his plan outline that I would like to make note of.

“To my progressive friends, I would remind you that for decades, the driving idea behind reform has been to end insurance company abuses and make coverage affordable for those without it”

“Ends discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions”

This relates to the philosophy I’ve talked about before that if people take the same risk and get different results for reasons outside their control they have a moral responsibility to even out those results.  That’s what progressives believe.  Just by living we are all taking the risk of getting sick.  When Republicans try to scare people about having to subsidize health care for others they only talk about overweight smokers, people who they can point their finger at and say “It’s their own fault.”  They don’t talk about a 6 year old with Lukemia.  I have no problem paying the average cost of treating both healthy and sick people, even though I’m healthy and could pay less if we left those sick people to fend for themselves.

4 comments ↓

#1 Micah Redding on 05.06.10 at 2:32 pm

I’m only barely interested in the healthcare discussion, but I am curious where this moral principle comes from.

If I understand correctly, you’re saying if I invest everything I own in the stock market and lose it all, while my neighbor invests everything he owns in the stock market and makes bucket-loads, he has a responsibility to split the profit with me?

#2 Bob Steinke on 05.07.10 at 8:10 am

The short answer is that you can choose not to invest in the stock market, but you can’t choose to never get sick.

Here’s the long answer:

The moral principle is that if nobody did anything to deserve more or less then the only fair result is for everyone to get the same. I have no problem with people getting a different result from others if they actually did something to deserve the difference.

So for some things like health care, you basically have this risk thrust upon you. You can’t choose not to take the risk. So it’s not fair for some to get lucky and others unlucky and be stuck with what you get.

There are some things like smoking that affect your health and you have control over. I have no problem with having to pay more for health insurance if you smoke.

So the stock market example is interesting. I hadn’t thought about it before. You choose to take a risk, but once you make that choice you have no control (or less than complete control) over the actual outcome. It doesn’t bother my moral sense for people to get different outcomes in that situation.

#3 Micah Redding on 05.07.10 at 8:44 am

Thanks for clarifying. That is different than I was understanding…if you were talking about choosing risks, then it would hard to see how you would ever actually have any risks to choose from.

Insurance is the function you are talking about, which levels out the background risks of living. I think everyone should have insurance, but I don’t think we should use violence to force everyone to do this.

#4 Bob Steinke on 05.07.10 at 2:35 pm

It’s basically about insurance, but there’s an additional wrinkle. One way of implementing insurance is for each individual to pay the expected value of their own future medical costs. A fairer way is for each individual to pay the expected value of the per-capita medical costs across the whole population.

For example, young women pay more for medical insurance than young men because pregnancy is expensive. I don’t think that’s fair. This is basically the moral argument behind rules like community rating.

Leave a Comment